April Workouts: Legs, Arms, Chest + Back and Shoulder Variations

March’s program — which used higher reps, more sets and slightly lighter weights, and the 10+10 rep method for heavy sets — was very successful.  I went up in weight on squats, bench press, curls, and overhead press. =)

For April, I wanted to mix things up and see how much my max weights had improved.  I am not big on 1-rep maxes – I think these vary from day to day based on how you’re feeling, how much sleep you got, any muscle tightness you’re experiencing, etc.  I focus much more on 5 rep or 10 rep sets at weights where I can maintain proper form.  So, this month, I decided to test a variation of my old favorite routine – combining sets of 5 reps at heavy weight, sets of 10 reps at medium weight, and sets of 20 reps with light weight.  For each workout over the past 2-3 weeks, I’ve used 2 exercise variations for 5 sets x 5 reps with ~80-85% max, 2 exercise variations for 3sets X10 reps with 65-70% max, and 2 exercise variations for 2 sets x20 reps @ 55-60% max.  I then add 1-2 “kill-it” moves – my name for extra exercise variations at the end of a long workout.  Finally, I’ve finished every workout with a 5-10 min “cardio” lift (swings, olympic lifts, plyo, etc) to get my heart rate up.

Here are sample workouts:

Legs:

(1) 5×5 back squat @185lbs, front squat @145lbs (on my glute focused day, I sub in deadlifts @205lbs for front squats)

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(Not as low as I normally go, but with heavy weight, make sure to at least get below parallel, with knees pushed out, toes pointed forward, and the bulk of your weight in the heels)

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(Keep your elbows high and drawn in in front of your chest, with knees out, toes pointed forward, and weight in the heels.)

(2) 3×10 wide plie squats 145lbs, narrow squats @ 185 (on the smith machine) (on my glute day, I sub in reverse lunges @ 135lbs)

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(I didn’t get a good photo at the bottom of the range of motion, but squat all the way below parallel!  Feet should be close together, about 1-2 inches apart.)

(3) 2 X 20 leg press @270lbs, kettlebell lunges @ 16/kg per arm (on glute day, sub in glute bridges @ 100lbs)

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(4) Kill-it moves: 2 x12 leg curls or leg extensions @ 85lbs, and 3 x 20 hip abductions @ 225lbs

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(5) Cardio: 4 rounds (no rest) of 6 jumping squats @ 65lbs, 9 kb swings @ 24kg, 12 jumping lunges, 15 mountain climbers.

Another good option is 10 min of 45 sec jumping rope, 15 sec rest.

Arms:

(1) 5×5 each: narrow bench press @ 80lbs, hammer curls @ 30/arm, skull crushers @ 60lbs, wide curls @ 60 lbs (Superset the narrow bench and hammer curls, with a short rest after you’ve finished both moves.  Then move on to supersets of skull crushers and wide curls.

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(Hold the bar with about 3-4 inches between your hands.  Press up and lower down)

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(2) 3X10 v-curls @ 20 lbs, kickbacks @ 20lbs

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(Lower the weights out to your sides, finishing with the weight right above your hips)

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(3) 2X20 Press outs @ 12.5 lbs, narrow dumbbell curls @ 15lbs

 

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(4) Kill-it moves: 2 X 20 dips and concentration curls @ 15 lbs

 

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(remember to have fun!)

 

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(5) Cardio: 5 rounds of 10 each dumbbell runs, ball slams, and kettlebell swings

(the video only shows 5 of each move for demonstrative purposes!)

Back/Chest

(1) 5X5 chest press (descending – 1@115, 4@105) and rows @90-100lbs (I bumped it up for the last 3 sets)

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(Yes – I need to work on my keeping my wrists straight.  Another benefit of photographing my workouts == spotting room for improvement).

(2) 3X10 incline press @ 65lbs, dumbbell rows @35/arm, decline press @ 75lbs, and one arm rows (not pictured) @27.5/arm

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(3) 2×20 lat pulldown @70lbs, cable cross (not pictured) @ 50lbs

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(4) Kill it move: 5-4-3-2-1 descending pyramid of alternating seated low rows and assisted pull-ups (no rest)

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(5) Not-cardio: pushup challenge

Do 1 pushup, jump up to standing, drop down and do 2 pushups, jump to standing, and repeat through, 3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10 pushups for time.  I finished mine in 1:11 this time.

Shoulders:
(no pictures, sorry!)

(1) 5×5 strict press @ 70lbs, push press @ 80lbs

(2) 3×10 front raise to lateral raise combo @ 15lbs , one arm clean and press @ 27.5/arm

(3) 2 X20 arm circles @ 12.5lbs, lateral/front raise combo @ 12.5 lbs [when the left arm is doing a front raise, the right arm is doing a lateral raise; switch sides each rep]

(4) Kill it moves: 1X20 lateral raises with thumbs pointed to the ceiling, 2X20 rotator cuff push outs

(5) Cardio: 3 rounds of 3 clean and press @ 65lbs, 5 ground to overhead @ 65lbs, 7 push press @ 65lbs, and 5/arm snatch @ 12 kg (no rest)

We added in one extra tabata round of ball slams – 4 min of 20 sec slamming, 10 sec rest.

As always, remember to work on flexibility and balance while strengthening – it is easy to lose your range of motion when working with heavier weights.

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